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Tuesday, February 22, 2005
U of R College Republicans Launch "Political Safe Zone" Campaign

U of R College Republicans struck a blow against political correctness last year by holding an affirmative action bake sale -- prompting a liberal professor to organize fellow faculty members to covertly press for disciplinary action against club members. Meghan Clyne wrote about it here for NRO.

Well, the U of R College Republicans and their fearless leader Noah Lebowitz are at it again. In response to the climate of intimidation and harassment that they experienced on campus last year, the U of R College Republicans have launched a new initiative: The Political Safe Zone Campaign.

The Political Safe Zone Campaign encourages college faculty, staff and students to take a stand in favor of open and honest debate without fear of retribution, reprisals or faculty led political witch hunts. As you can imagine, it is not proving a very popular program in the academy.

Below is a copy of the text of a letter which was sent to the U of R faculty along with the Safe Zone Flag sticker that also appears below.

February 2, 2005

Faculty, Staff, and Administrators
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627

To Whom It May Concern:

A college campus is a place where all persons, regardless of political orientation, should be able to freely and openly express their views without fear of reprisal or intimidation. Unfortunately, the climate of debate on most American college campuses, including the University of Rochester, falls far short of this ideal.

All members of our university community deserve to know that they can speak their minds openly and honestly, whether they are in the public square or on the University of Rochester campus. The first step toward achieving this goal is to create a campus environment that embraces intellectual, ideological, and political diversity.

In order to ensure that all students can feel comfortable sharing their views, the University of Rochester College Republicans are launching the Political Safe Zone Campaign. We are encouraging faculty, staff, and students to participate in this campaign by displaying the attached Political Safe Zone sticker on their doorway.

By participating in the Political Safe Zone Campaign, you will be demonstrating your commitment to unfettered discussion and debate both inside and outside the classroom. In addition, you will be taking a stand in support of the intellectual tolerance and diversity of thought that is essential to the advancement of human knowledge.

Previous Safe Zone style campaigns on our campus and elsewhere have been successful in expanding opportunities for once marginalized groups to share their thoughts and ideas freely and comfortably. No matter your political orientation, we hope that you will participate in the Political Safe Zone Campaign and encourage discussion from all points of view across the university community.


The University of Rochester College Republicans

You can download a Microsoft Word version of the Political Safe Zone sticker
here for yourself and print your own stickers out on extra large labels.

So far, only one professor has posted a sticker on their door, along with a critical comment saying something along the line that "Matthew Shephard was not a conservative." We are working on getting a picture of that for you all to enjoy. So the total number of professors willing to take a stand for academic and political freedom for all on U of R's campus as of today stands at ZERO.

Like I have said before. Academia = Bizarro world.

what are the college republicans DOING parodying SAFE ZONE, a VERY REAL and VERY NECESSARY project to help people who are transitioning into non mainstream sexual culture? People who are routinely the victims of harassment and hate crimes? People, who have been oftentimes been unable to completely express themselves to their friends and families for the first 18 years of their lives? SAFEZONE originated as a grassroots project to organize safe spaces for people struggling with gender and sexual identity. SAFEZONE has literally saved countless lives and is no laughing matter.

Do you know what makes me angry about the perversion of free speech, (keep in mind that I’m rabidly liberal)? If you want to say something offensive and stupid and make EVERYONE uncomfortable, i will fight TOOTH AND NAIL to protect your speech, but goddammit, you better sit still when i call you a racist or an idiot. that's the way real free speech works, you want to pull a stunt that makes minorities uncomfortable and COMPLETELY misrepresents affirmative action? GREAT. Now deal with everyone else exercising their speech.
Jenni -

Can you please post again? I am trying to follow your argument and having a hard time. I don't think the College Republicans are parodying the Safe Zone campaign in order to mock gays or anything like that.

The CR's explicitly state in their letter that "Previous Safe Zone style campaigns on our campus and elsewhere have been successful in expanding opportunities for once marginalized groups to share their thoughts and ideas freely and comfortably."

So it seems like they agree with you that Safe Zone is a great way to make people feel uncomfortable on campus.

It seems to me that the CR's are not saying that gays should be uncomfortable on campus. What they are saying is, that conservatives should also be comfortable on campus. Given the importance of intellectual diversity to the scientific enterprise, it seems like a reasonable thing to request.

Also note, that liberals like yourself would not be excluded by a political safe zone sticker, which also explictly says: your views are welcome here too (everyone's are!). It is not a Republicans-only safe zone, although clearly it is conservatives/Republicans who will benefit the most from it given the current climate on college campuses.

I am an academic by training (if not profession) and I think this is a great idea that would help ease a lot of tension on college campuses by reassuring students, in particular, that they can and should speak their minds.

I would like to hear from you again on this, though, because it wasn't clear to me whether you are suggesting that some speech is more free than others. The way I read your comment, people like Ward Churchill should be able to feel comfortable speaking their minds, but people who oppose affirmative action should stay quiet.
Jen makes some good points, none of which I picked up on however.
She is offended that the sacred phrase "safe zone" was stolen from those who have been sexually assualted. Oh well Jen, too bad.
Yes TJ, in her world some speech is more free thean others.
Ward Churchill is a Native American who should have a voice, but if you think that abortion is a word for killing an innocent baby, then you need to sit down and bite your lip...silly boy, oh, unless you kill the baby after a certain amount of months...then you broke a law and need to be locked up with the negro's...but we can't call them that because a blind jazz musician got pissed, they are african americans... but only kill babies when there of the proper killing age, or you REALLY will meet the negro's...or who ever they are.
MMark - I really don't understand what the "negro" v. "african-American" thing has to do with it. Do you really think we should still call black people "negros?" Times change. Hell, if things stayed the same, you would be referring to me as a "guinea" and "wop". Well, at least you would be doing it in public and to my face.
Yes, I understand that Negro and Wop are not the same in terms of the intent to offend. Just pointing out that things change. I don't really want to get into this -- not what I want to talk about.
Your right TJ, its best to let that rock lay undisturbed, even though its right in the middle of the trail.
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